Lowe's Fernandez Racing Prepares for Challenges of Petit Le Mans; Michel Jourdain Jr. to Make Team/American Le Mans Series Debut Lowe's Fernandez Racing adds to its arsenal this week with the addition of Michel Jourdain Jr. alongside team ...
Lowe's Fernandez Racing Prepares for Challenges of Petit Le Mans; Michel Jourdain Jr. to Make Team/American Le Mans Series Debut
Lowe's Fernandez Racing adds to its arsenal this week with the addition of Michel Jourdain Jr. alongside team regulars Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz aboard the #15 Lowe's Acura ARX. The trio are preparing for a cornerstone event of the American Le Mans Series - the Petit Le Mans endurance classic. Thirty-eight entries and an infusion of open-wheel talent will vie for bragging rights in the challenging 1,000 mile/10-hour race at Road Atlanta.
Fernandez and Diaz have displayed their adeptness in endurance racing, crossing the finish line second in two starts at the Twelve Hours of Sebring. [2008 result disqualified in post-race technical inspection.] Through no fault of their own, the pair did not fare well in their Petit Le Mans debut last year. An on-track incident two hours into the race resulted in a blocked track leaving Diaz nowhere to go. Significant damage to the rear of the car occurred when Diaz was subsequently hit from behind. The team was able to make the necessary repairs to return to the track but the initial heavy damage caused the team to retire with just over six hours remaining in the race.
Jourdain, 32, will be preparing for his team and ALMS debut this weekend following an earlier announcement that the Mexican talent was signed as a third driver at Lowe's Fernandez Racing for Petit and the two 2009 endurance events. Like Fernandez, Jourdain made his mark in the open-wheel ranks in a nine-year Champ Car career that included 152 starts, two wins, nine podiums and a third-place finish in the 2003 championship. He made his sports car racing debut in 2006, running three races with Doran Racing in the Grand-Am series.
Adrian Fernandez, #15 Lowe's Acura ARX: "This is becoming a favorite race track for the drivers, and the race itself brings a lot of good competition from around the world -- not just the American Le Mans Series -- and also a lot of good drivers and former champions like Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan just to mention a few. The level of competition is really, really high. Obviously, you have the different classes to compete with which makes it very interesting and makes the competition quite tough because of the speed differences. This track is particularly challenging because it is very fast. It is a tough, physical race track for everyone. This race is a good way for a lot of drivers that are not racing or their series are over to come and keep up their miles. And it is becoming more and more popular with the fans. Every year it is getting better and better. This track has great spectator viewing areas where you can see a lot of the race track. Our test this past weekend went well. We gave Michel a lot of miles and he is doing very well."
Luis Diaz, #15 Lowe's Acura ARX: "I am very confident going into the race. We were almost three seconds quicker than with the Lola last year right away in testing this weekend and the car handled very well. The team has shown that we are competitive in the long races like Sebring. Last year, we had bad luck here but I felt we would have finished well if we didn't have those problems. Michel brings his experience which makes us a stronger team. I feel very, very confident that we will have a good result."
Michel Jourdain Jr., #15 Lowe's Acura ARX: "This weekend for me is many things. I am very, very excited to race in the ALMS. The Petit Le Mans, in a short time, has become a classic race and to do it with Adrian and Luis is so great. We have been friends for so many years and to have this opportunity is fantastic. I really enjoy endurance racing and when it is with good friends, it is even better. The race track is very difficult. It has so many blind spots and it is tough to learn but I think I am getting better at it. Adapting to the car is not easy but, again, I think I am getting better at it. It is a very fast car in the fast corners -- so, so quick. In talking to Scott Dixon, it's amazing because it is so much faster than an Indy car or anything that we have driven before in the fast corners. Hopefully, we can give Lowe's and Acura a win. Adrian and Luis have been so close many times this year. I wish it had happened before so there wasn't so much pressure, but I would love to be part of the first win of the season."